Serum Institute of India (SII) is planning to cut monthly production of Covishield by 50%, if it does not receive any fresh orders either from the government or from export markets. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of SII, said on Tuesday that after completing supplies to the government, the company would cut production as there were no further orders.
The company has ramped up Covid-19 vaccine production and taken its capacity to 250 million doses a month in December 2021. SII has a stockpile of 500 million doses with them, which has a shelf life of nine months.
The country has completed vaccination of 85% of the adult population with the first dose and 60% of the adult population with the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and has till date administered 129.50 crore doses. Out of this, around 90% of the vaccine administered 114.78 crore vaccines doses were SII’s Covishield vaccine. The Union government has supplied 139 crore vaccine doses to states and Union Territories and a stock of 20.13 crore vaccines is with states.
The eight-month ban on exports led to SII losing market share in the export markets to other vaccine manufacturers. The company resumed exports from November 26 and is expected to pick up volumes gradually in the first quarter of 2022. With supply exceeding demand and many of the countries unable to absorb the supplies at a faster pace, SII would not need to make 250 million doses a month and as a result plans to cut production.
SII started shipping the Covishield vaccine from January this year and crossed the one billion dose landmark in the last week of November. The country has administered 114.78 crore vaccines of the Covishield vaccines till date. SII has exported seven crore doses of the Covishield.
The company would require to scale up production only if there was a demand for booster doses in the country. Though there is a growing demand for booster shots in the country after the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the government has not taken a decision on booster shots of the vaccine yet.
Maharashtra state minister, Aditya Thackeray, has written to the Union health minister to reduce gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine to four weeks and to allow booster shots. The World Health Organisation is meeting on Tuesday to discuss efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and safety of booster dose.